Best New Leadership And Business Book Of 2020

This time each year, I select my pick for best new leadership and business book for the year. For 2020, my pick is, Stand Out! Become a Young Professional Who Wins at Work and Life, by Nathan Magnuson, published in June this year.

Written by a humble, wise, insightful millennial, Magnuson provides a timely resource to help young professionals excel in the workplace and beyond. 

  • I selected this book because Magnuson tells it like it is, provides clear, practical, actionable advice and speaks with authenticity and in a conversational style that will resonate with young career professionals.

Call it a blueprint, handbook, guide or manual, Stand Out! is a must-read for young professionals early in their career, for recent college graduates, and for workplace leaders respectfully guiding and coaching the young professionals within their organizations. Stand Out! also makes for a good gift from a parent or life/business coach and is perfect for a millennial’s book club. 

Nathan Magnuson

Within the book's 10 chapters, he covers the topics of:

  • ownership
  • mindset
  • identity
  • growth
  • engagement
  • leadership
  • and more

Magnuson kindly shared with me earlier this year these additional insights about his book:

Question: What inspired you to write your new book, Stand Out!?

MagnusonI've spent the last decade working in corporate leadership development, so I've seen how hungry young professionals are. I've also been a part of (and led) several YP groups. And it seems I've learned many of the key lessons young professionals face the hard way - especially finding meaningful work. The project was born from a combination of all those experiences. I felt writing Stand Out! was a chance for me to make a difference in the world... and to help young professionals succeed at the things that matter most.

Question: Do you believe millennials are more likely to value and heed the advice in Stand Out! because it was written by a millennial, and why?

MagnusonAbsolutely - There are many generational experts out there, but very few young professionals experts. And of them, some are Generation X, approaching it as more of a mentoring opportunity or wanting to leave a resource for their children. I'm an older millennial, so there's definitely credibility that comes with sharing common experiences. 

Question: What did you learn from writing your first book, Ignite Your Leadership Expertise, that influenced your new book? 

Magnuson: So much! Most of it was going through the publishing and marketing processes. Writing is actually the easy part of getting a book launched! Interestingly, I wrote the first draft for Stand Out! before Ignite Your Leadership Expertise, but it was too big of a project for me just yet, which is why Ignite was published first. 

Question: Chapter 2 in Stand Out! about Mindset could be somewhat “tough love” for some readers. Why was it important to include this chapter’s topic in the book?

Magnuson: The title for Chapter 2 is "Mindset - Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself." It's a funny phrase we sometimes tell young children, but developing a winning attitude is a life-long challenge for all of us. Years ago, Victor Frankel discovered "the last of the human freedoms" while imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps, which is the ability to choose one's attitude despite circumstances. His work influenced many other thought leaders, including Stephen Covey... and me!  At the end of the day, Stand Out! is meant to help young professionals win, and it's hard to win without a winning attitude.

Question: What’s the most important discovery likely to come from taking your recommended 100x gratitude challenge?

Magnuson: Two things. The first is an awareness of how blessed we are. We have so much to be grateful for that we overlook every single day! Second, it starts to make gratitude into a habit. Grateful heart, happy heart! 

Question: What is some good language for a supervisor to use when sharing your book with his/her millennial employees?

Magnuson: Mark Miller, VP of High Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A said, "Stand Out! should be required reading for new employees, and probably all the others, at every organization." I wish every supervisor could read Stand Out! - it would help them form a strong connection with their young professionals! I tried to make it easy by including short takeaways and discussion questions at the end of each chapter. The questions from Chapters 3 & 4 are probably a good place to start. But I also wrote a white paper specifically for leaders of young professionals called 5 Ways to Win the Hearts of Your Young Professionals. I'll spoil it - the first two ways are to connect to their sense of purpose and then to help connect them with each other.

Question: When would be a good time for a Gen Z person to read, Stand Out!?

Magnuson: It's funny, growing up, I remember talking about what job I wanted to get one day, but never about what to do after I got a job. I wish I could have been given Stand Out! as a college upperclassman to help me start preparing for career success.

Question: Why does the advice of Janet Kamerman, "Be Good at Making Other Being Look Good", resonate so well with you?

Magnuson: I met Janet Kamerman when she was the Chief Learning Officer at the FBI and I was a junior consultant. She made a comment to me in passing one day that changed my life. She said great leaders are good at making other people look good. All of a sudden, I realized that true success is about competing FOR your teammates, not against them. It's a self-actualization turned on its head. Since that's the kind of teammate I want to have, that's the kind of teammate I need to be.

Question: What are your tips for millennials who want to discuss your book through a virtual book club experience?

Magnuson: Well I tried to do the heavy lifting for all the readers by putting some really reflective discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I think whether virtual or in-person, take it 1 or 2 chapters at a time and use those questions to guide you. We're actually working on a "Stand Out! Book Club Experience" as well. Anyone leading a large book club should contact me about it.


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